Airline Rules for Traveling While Pregnant

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I’ve written so far about planning trips if you are hoping to become pregnant in the relatively near future, traveling during the first trimester, traveling during the second trimester, and I will soon devote a post to tips for traveling during the third trimester.  However, before I do so I want to write about the different airline rules for traveling while pregnant, because they are by no means consistent.  They range from fly whenever you want, to fly with an obstetrician – and I’m not kidding.

 

Flying at 30 weeks pregnant

Flying at 30 weeks pregnant

For the most part, the airline specific rules for traveling while pregnant don’t kick in until the third trimester in the 28th week, so before then you are basically left to your own good decision making and the guidance of your medical team.  However, once you hit the 28th week (or presumably look like you have hit the 28th week), some of the decision making about when and where to fly is out of your hands and in the hands of airline rules and policies.  US airlines typically do not require any documentation or have any travel restrictions until the last month of pregnancy, whereas many international airlines do require medical clearance starting at 28 weeks.

28 weeks may not look terrible big, it's a big deal for some airlines

28 weeks may not look terrible big, it’s a big deal for some airlines

Those pregnant with more than one baby will have travel restrictions on many international airlines kick in sooner than those pregnant with one baby.  I highly recommend you read through this guide if you are or may become pregnant as you might be surprised at what some of the airlines do (and don’t) require.

Airline Rules for Traveling While Pregnant:

Air Canada:
Any woman with a normal pregnancy and no previous history of premature labour may travel up to and including her 36th week on Air Canada, Jazz and Air Canada coded flights operated by Tier 3 carriers.

Air France:

You do not need medical clearance to fly with Air France.  However, we recommend you seek your doctor’s opinion before traveling.

  • Within 48 hours of delivery Normal Vaginal Delivery (NVD)

Air New Zealand:

We recommend that you discuss your travel plans with your doctor or midwife.

  • If you are carrying one baby and the pregnancy is uncomplicated, with medical clearance from your midwife or doctor you can travel up to the end of the 35th week for flights over 5 hours and to the end of the 37th week for flights under 5 hours
  • For multiple pregnancies (e.g. twins) you can travel up to the end of the 31st week

A medical clearance is required by Air New Zealand if any of the following apply to you:

  • You have a complicated pregnancy such as placenta previa or bleeding
  • You have a multiple pregnancy such as twins/triplets and are travelling beyond the start of the 32nd week
  • You have a history of premature labour
  • You are in the early stages of labour
  • You are travelling beyond the start of 36th week of pregnancy on a flight longer than 5 hours
  • You are travelling beyond the start of the 38th week of pregnancy on any flight

Alaska Airlines:

No restrictions or specifications for women traveling when pregnant.  However, we do suggest consulting a physician prior to any air travel.

American Airlines:

  • In addition to the information below, please also be aware that a medical certificate is required if you will be traveling within four weeks of your delivery date in a normal, uncomplicated pregnancy.
  • For domestic flights under five hours (not including travel over water), travel is not permitted within seven days before and after your delivery date. If you should need to travel within seven days before or after delivery, a medical certificate is required as well as clearance from our Special Assistance Coordinators.
  • For international travel or any flights over the water, travel is not advised within 30 days of the due date, unless you are examined by an obstetrician within 48 hours of outbound departure and certified in writing as medically stable for flight. Travel within 10 days of the due date for International travel must have clearance from our Special Assistance Coordinators. Travel within 7 days after delivery requires clearance as well.

British Airways:

We understand that pregnancy is not a medical condition but for your safety, and your baby’s, you cannot fly after:

  • the end of the 36th week if you are pregnant with one baby
  • the end of the 32nd week if you are pregnant with more than one baby

After 28 weeks you must carry confirmation from your doctor or midwife (such as a letter or certificate, in addition to your pregnancy record) confirming your approximate due date and that there are no complications with your pregnancy.

Cathay Pacific:
For all pregnancies after 28 weeks (i.e. after 27 weeks + 6 days from Date of Last Menstrual Period), a medical certificate, dated within 10 days of the initial outbound travel date, is required, stating:

  • whether it is a single or multiple pregnancy
  • the estimated week of pregnancy
  • the expected date of delivery (EDD)
  • that you are in good health and the pregnancy is progressing normally, without complications
  • that you are fit to travel.

If you experience any medical complications during your travel, you would require medical clearance from our medical team prior to your return journey. (Please see below for details)

Please note that for your safety, if you choose not to carry a medical certificate, if your medical certificate is outdated or if it does not contain the information required, Cathay Pacific Airways reserves the right to deny boarding.

32 weeks:
We will accept passengers with uncomplicated multiple pregnancies up to 32 weeks (i.e. 31 weeks + 6 days).

36 weeks:
We will accept passengers with uncomplicated single pregnancies up to 36 weeks (i.e. 35 weeks + 6 days)

Delta Airlines:

Delta does not impose restrictions on flying for pregnant women, so a medical certificate is not required to travel. Keep in mind, however, that ticket change fees and penalties cannot be waived for pregnancy. If you’re traveling after your eight month, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor to be sure travel is not restricted.

EVA:

  • Although pregnancy is not a disability it is important to recognize that expectant mother during the last 4 weeks of pregnancy prior to confinement or a mother within the first 7 days after giving birth cannot be accepted as a passenger on an EVA flight.
  • An expectant mother anticipating a complicated pregnancy during the last 8 weeks prior to confinement cannot be accepted as a passenger on an EVA flight.
  • An expectant mother during the last 12 to 4 weeks of pregnancy prior to confinement must obtain an medical information sheet (MEDIF) within 10 days prior to flight departure.
  • We recommend that pregnant travelers bring a Doctor’s Diagnostic Statement verifying the expected date of confinement to prevent the possibility of being denied boarding by airport staff or barred from entering a destination country.

Frontier Airlines:
Passengers who are pregnant are urged to consult with their doctor on whether it is safe to travel by air, including with due consideration to the possibility of turbulence, cabin pressurization, significantly increased risk of deep vein thrombosis associated with pregnancy, and lack of ready access to medical care.  This is particularly important for women in their ninth month of pregnancy, who are urged to obtain an examination from their physician shortly before flying to confirm that flying by air will be safe. Women with a history of complications or premature delivery should not fly at all. By traveling with Frontier, pregnant women acknowledge and accept these risks.

Hawaiian Airlines:

  • In good health, not experiencing medical complications or distress and not planning to travel within seven days of your due date, then you’re good to fly with us.
  • If you are traveling within Hawaii and your travel date is within seven days of your due date, or your baby is less than seven days old, you’ll need a medical certificate from your doctor to be permitted to fly on Hawaiian Airlines.
  • If you are traveling between Hawaii and North America or Internationally within 30 days of your due date then your obstetrician will need to examine you within 48 hours of your scheduled departure and provide a written certification that you’re medically fit to travel.

JAL:

[Cases when a medical certificate are required for international routes]
(Medical certificates are always available here)

  • When the expected delivery date is in 4 weeks or less (36th week of pregnancy or after)
  • When the due date is in 14 days or less, an obstetrician must accompany the expectant mother.

JetBlue:

Pregnant Passengers expecting to deliver within seven days are prohibited from travel, unless such Passenger provides a doctor’s certificate dated no more than seventy-two (72) hours prior to departure stating that the Doctor has examined and found the Passenger to be physically fit for air travel to and from the destinations requested on the date of the flight and that the estimated date of delivery is after the date of the last flight.

Lufthansa:

  • Expectant mothers with complication-free pregnancies can fly with Lufthansa until the end of the 36th week of pregnancy or up to four weeks before their expected due date without a medical certificate from a gynaecologist. However, we recommend that expectant mothers beyond the 28th week of their pregnancies carry a current letter from a gynecologist which includes the following:
    • confirmation that the pregnancy is progressing without complications
    • the expected due date
    • the gynecologist should expressly state that the patient’s pregnancy does not prevent her from flying.
  • In the case of an uncomplicated pregnancy with twins or a multiple pregnancy, it is possible to fly until the end of the 28th week of pregnancy.

Qantas:

  • Flights 4+ Hours: For routine pregnancies, you can travel up to the end of the 36th week for single pregnancies and the end of the 32nd week for multiple pregnancies (e.g. twins).
  • Medical clearance is required if you are having complications with your pregnancy (that is, if the pregnancy is not routine).
  • Flights less than 4 Hours:  For routine pregnancies, you can travel up to the end of the 40th week for single pregnancies and the end of the 36th week for multiple pregnancies.
  • Medical clearance is required if you are having complications with your pregnancy and it is not a routine pregnancy.
  • After 28 weeks, you need to carry a certificate or letter from a registered medical practitioner or registered midwife confirming:
  • the estimated date of delivery;
  • whether it is a single or multiple pregnancy;
  • that the pregnancy is a routine pregnancy and that there are no complications with the pregnancy.
  • The certificate or letter must be available on request and be carried with you at the airport and during the flight in your cabin baggage.
  • Medical clearance is required if the pregnancy is not routine and you are experiencing any complications with your pregnancy.

Singapore Airlines:

  • For uncomplicated single pregnancies, we restrict expectant mothers from travelling beyond the 36th week of pregnancy (calculated based on the expected date of delivery).
  • For uncomplicated multiple pregnancies, we restrict expectant mothers from travelling beyond the 32nd week of pregnancy (calculated based on the expected date of delivery).
  • For uncomplicated single pregnancies between 29 weeks and 36 weeks of pregnancy, expectant mothers are required to provide a medical certificate stating the following: (1) fitness to travel, (2) number of weeks of pregnancy and (3) estimated date of delivery. The certificate should be dated within ten days of the date of the first flight exceeding 28 weeks of pregnancy. This certificate will have to be presented at check-in when requested.
  • For uncomplicated multiple pregnancies, you need to present the medical certificate if you are travelling between the 29th and 32nd week of pregnancy (calculated based on the expected date of delivery).
  • You need not present any medical certificate if you are travelling within the 28th week of pregnancy (calculated based on the expected date of delivery). But if any of your return flight exceeds 28 weeks of pregnancy, you will need to present a medical certificate.

Southwest Airlines:

While air travel does not usually cause problems during pregnancy unless delivery is expected within 14 days or less, in some cases, traveling by air has been known to cause complications or premature labor. Female Customers at any stage of pregnancy should consult with their physicians prior to air travel. Southwest Airlines recommends against air travel beginning at the 38th week of pregnancy. Depending on their physical condition, strength, and agility, pregnant women may, in some cases, be asked not to sit in the emergency exit row.

Spirit Airlines:

Women in their 9th month of pregnancy are urged to obtain an examination from her physician shortly before flying to confirm it is safe for them to travel.

Swiss:

Mothers-to-be whose pregnancy has proceeded without complications can travel on Swiss flights up to the end of the 36th week of pregnancy, i.e. up until four weeks before their scheduled delivery date. If you are expecting a multiple birth and the pregnancy proceeds without complications, you can travel on Swiss flights up to the end of the 32th week of pregnancy.

We recommend expectant mothers beyond the 28th week of their pregnancies to carry a current letter from a physician stating that the pregnancy is uncomplicated and confirming the expected date of delivery. The physician should state that the patient’s pregnancy does not prevent her from travelling by air.

Turkish Airlines:

  • Women with pregnancies can fly up to their 28th weeks of pregnancies without doctor report.
  • Pregnant women expecting one baby can fly with doctor report states fit to fly by air carriage between 28 – 35 weeks. After that, they are no longer fit to fly even with medical clearance.
  • Pregnant women expecting twins or more can fly with doctor report states fit to fly by air carriage between 28 – 31 weeks. After that, they are no longer fit to fly even with medical clearance.
  • Medical clearance must be dated 7 days prior to the flight.
  • Doctor’s name and surname, diploma number, signature must be shown clearly on the medical clearance.
  • The report should be issued in English or Turkish.

United Airlines:

  • Any woman in the first eight months of pregnancy will be allowed to travel on a United flight without medical documentation.
  • A woman traveling during her ninth month of pregnancy must have the original and two copies of an obstetrician’s certificate, which must be dated within three days (72 hours) prior to her flight departure. To best assure the pregnant traveler’s safety, it is preferable to have a certificate dated within one day of flight departure.
  • The certificate must state that the obstetrician has examined the customer and found her to be physically fit for air travel between the specified dates. The estimated birth date of the baby must be after the date of the last flight on the itinerary.

US Airways:

  • If your due date is within 7 days of your flight, you must provide a doctor’s certificate, dated within 72 hours of departure, stating that he or she has examined you and determined that you are fit to fly.

Virgin Australia:

If you are 28 weeks pregnant or more, you will be required to carry a letter from your doctor or midwife, dated no more than 10 days prior to travel, outlining the estimated due date, single or multiple pregnancies, the absence of complications, and your fitness to fly for the duration of the flight(s) booked.

You can make a direct request to Virgin Australia to consider your pregnancy and relevant medical condition on a case by case basis by contacting our Guest Contact Centre.

We require you to travel with medical clearance (PDF, 331KB) during pregnancy if the following applies:

You are unacceptable for travel on flights greater than 4 hours

  • Single pregnancy – after the 36th week
  • Multiple pregnancy – after the 32nd week
  • Within 48 hours of delivery Normal Vaginal Delivery (NVD)

You are unacceptable for travel on flights less than 4 hours

  • Single pregnancy – after the 38th week
  • Multiple pregnancy – after the 36th week

Virgin Atlantic:

  • If you’re expecting one baby and want to travel between your 28th and 36th weeks, we’ll need your doctor to fill out a Pregnancy Information Form. Once completed, please send the form through to our Special Assistance team – you’ll find the form, address and email address below.
  • After your 36th week, you must not fly unless there are mitigating circumstances which you can find listed below.
  • If you’re expecting more than one baby and you want to travel between your 28th and 32nd weeks, we’ll need your doctor to fill out a Pregnancy Information Form. Once completed, please send the form through to our Special Assistance team – you’ll find the form, address and email address below.
  • You must not fly after the end of your 32nd week.
  • For travel after the 36th week for single pregnancies or after the 32nd week for multiple pregnancies, we can only carry you for urgent medical or compassionate reasons, and only on approval from our medical advisors. We may also ask that a suitable medical attendant accompany you.
  • Please contact our Special Assistance team on 0844 412 4455 for more details.
My last flight when I was pregnant with Little C was a short Southwest Airlines flight at about 35 or 36 weeks pregnant to attend a funeral.  This time around my last flight was at about 31 weeks, and that was enough airline travel for me because it simply was not comfortable at all any more.  Just because an airline permits you to fly until right before your due date, doesn’t mean you actually will want to, but we’ll save that discussion for the Traveling During the Third Trimester Tips post.
Have you had any experience submitting documentation to an airline in order to fly while pregnant?
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International travel at 23 weeks

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Comments

  1. Admittedly, this was 22 years ago but I traveled a lot for work when I was pregnant with my second daughter. At about 28 weeks, I called it quits on traveling. That was when I could no longer easily get in and out of the airline seat! (She was 10 pounds at birth and my belly was huge!) Also, when traveling for work, I was on my feet all day working at trade shows. I was so tired it was all I could do to work and then order room service for dinner and go to bed.

    • Denise, I don’t blame you. I was VERY uncomfortable on my last couple flights this pregnancy and am glad I didn’t do it more than I did toward the ends. Truthfully sitting anywhere is pretty uncomfortable these days…ha!

  2. I really love that Air New Zealand requires a medical certificate if:
    “You are in the early stages of labour”
    Lol!
    I feel really bad for anyone who needs to fly in the early stages of labor!

  3. Thank you so much for posting this. I just barely found out I am pregnant and have a trip planned for Hawaii 9/30-10/14, I will be due 11/25 (approx.). Looks like I should be ok to fly no matter what airline I choose. This is my second child and my first pregnancy was fairly easy so I am hoping this one goes smoothly as well!

    • Congrats! I do believe you will be within the airline rules to fly, but I will say that close to your due date you will certainly want to get an okay from your doc the week before you go. Have a great trip and congrats again on Baby #2!

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